Missionaries Kidnapped, Ahmaud Arbery, and Life Before Social Media Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Monday, Oct. 18, and we're covering a mass kidnapping in Haiti, the start of a long-awaited trial in Georgia, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

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Missionaries Kidnapped

At least 17 missionaries were kidnapped by Haitian gangs near the country's capital of Port-au-Prince early Saturday morning, according to reports. Five children were said to be included in the abduction. The group, Ohio-based Christian Aid Ministries, was returning from an orphanage en route to the country's airport.


Security in Haiti has dramatically declined in recent years under the watch of former President Jovenel Moïse, a trend accelerated by Moïse's assassination in July. Gangs have rapidly expanded their influence in the power vacuum, controlling at least half of the capital city by some estimates. 


The country has seen an explosion of kidnapping-for-ransom cases, representing 10% of all such crimes in the Americas despite having less than 1% of the region's population. As of this morning, a demand for the group's release had not been released; US officials said they were working to establish communications with the kidnappers.

Ahmaud Arbery Trial Begins

Jury selection begins today in the murder trial of Ahmaud Arbery, one of a number of high-profile killings that fueled nationwide racial justice protests throughout 2020. Gregory McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, and their neighbor, William Bryan, face charges including murder and assault.


Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, was killed last February while out running, according to his family (see timeline). The suspects, who were armed, say they believed he was involved in a series of home robberies in the area and chased him in vehicles to confront him. The unarmed Arbery was killed while struggling with the younger McMichael.


No charges were made until last May, when a video of the shooting surfaced and went viral. See a legal analysis of the footage and how it connects to the charges here (warning—video contains graphic content, please use discretion).


The suspects are expected to argue they were attempting a citizen's arrest and acted in self-defense.

British Lawmaker Killed

A British lawmaker was killed Friday after being stabbed by an attacker during a constituent meeting in the town of Leigh-on-Sea, about 50 miles east of London. Sir David Amess, a member of the Conservative Party, had served the area in parliament for nearly four decades. 


The suspect, 25-year-old Ali Harbi Ali, was taken into custody; officials said they are investigating the attack as an act of terrorism. Ali was previously referred to the country's Prevent program (see overview), an effort meant to intervene in those susceptible to radicalization, though no formal investigation was carried out. 


Amess was the second member of parliament killed in the past five years. Labour Party member Jo Cox was shot and stabbed to death in public ahead of constituent meetings. Cox's attacker, Thomas Mair, was said to be motivated by white nationalism.  

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

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> Chicago Sky wins their first WNBA championship in franchise history after topping Phoenix Mercury 80-74 in Game 4 of the finals (More)


> Ronnie Tutt, drummer who worked with Elvis, Johnny Cash, and more, dies at 83 (More) | Actress Betty Lynn, best known for "The Andy Griffith Show," dies at 95 (More) | Boogie Board inventor and renowned surfing-figure Tom Morey dies at 86 (More)


> Nationwide strike averted as Hollywood behind-the-scenes workers reach new three-year film and TV contract (More)

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Science & Technology

> Advisory panel recommends a booster shot of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, without restrictions (More) | See current US COVID-19 stats here (More)


> NASA launches Lucy, a 12-year mission to visit the Trojan asteroids, which circle the sun in Jupiter's orbit; study is expected to shed light on how planets form (More)


> MIT engineers demonstrate prototype robotic fibers that can respond to how much they are being stretched; applications include textiles that provide real-time feedback for athletes, hospital patients, and more (More)

Business & Markets

> Sources say the Securities and Exchange Commission will allow trading of Bitcoin exchange-traded funds as early as this week, as Bitcoin passes $60K for the first time since April (More)   


> US retail sales increased 0.7% in September, above expectations; sales have climbed 14% over the past year compared to a 5.4% increase in the consumer price index (More)


> Goldman Sachs smashes earnings expectations, closes out strong week for US bank earnings (More)

Politics & World Affairs

> The Islamic State claims credit for a mosque bombing in the Afghan city of Kandahar that killed at least 47 people and injured dozens more (More) | More on the Taliban and the Islamic State (More)


> Biden administration says it will reinstate the Trump-era "Remain in Mexico" policy in mid-November, complying with a court order (More) | Move comes amid the largest surge in border encounters in two decades (More)


> Former President Bill Clinton released from hospital after a six-day stay; Clinton was reportedly treated for a urinary tract infection that spread to his bloodstream (More)



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"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up."

- Thomas Edison

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